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Well OK, I'll admit, I'm a software guy. Anyway, one of the few tools available that actually helps me with management is for brainstorming and its a mind mapping program.

I prefer the free version called "[url=http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page]Freemind[/url]" over the bloated commercial [url=http://www.mindjet.com/us/products/mindmanager_pro6/index.php?s=1]mindma... software but I thought I'd add this for anyone interested in having a free tool for just recording in brainstorming sessions.

I have used it for this on a projector and it works well to throw everyidea up and then just interactively try to group things once the ideas stop flowing in. As mike said in the podcast, seeing everything and having the group try to organize things can really help for a software project. Its not as physical for the whole team, but works well and is recorded when you leave the session.

Hope it helps.

phil801's picture

Great link Mike! I downloaded and installed MindManager a while ago and found ti too cumbersome to be useful. FreeMind sounds like it will actually be helpful.

Mark's picture

Mike-

Thanks for the suggestion. I've used FreeMind as well, and like it quite a bit. Mike A uses mindmapping all the time - more than me - and swears by it. GOOD CALL!!

That said, it's important to note that mind mapping is NOT BRAINSTORMING. I would NOT recommend that one use mind map software to help with the "ideation" portion of brainstorming. The moment you do that, you're asking folks to organize stuff - which is a completely different cognitive function than ideation.

Even if you have the facilitator using it, the group will move in that direction, and the facilitator will both slow things down and take on a greater role than one should.

Now, mind mapping everything AFTER... THAT works BRILLIANTLY, in my opinion.

Just wanted to clarify that. Brainstorming works because it has very few limits, other than pure ideation.

Mark

itilimp's picture

Hi there, I normally just lurk but had to post on this one :)

Actually I just have to add to this thread that I am a Mindjet Mind Manager user and have tried Freemind (along with some concept mapping software) in the past and I personally prefer Mind Manager.

To reassure Mark, Mind Manager has a Brainstorming mode where you literally just capture whatever people say as they say it with NO organisation at that stage. Once the brainstorming is over, it's all captured in the software already so you can then go about organising it appropriately.

Mark's picture

Ahhh. That sounds good.

And one final point: technology is NOT the way to go, guys! Everybody has to be able to SEE what is being written, and it shoud be written FREE HAND and relatively unorganized, to alllow the mind to capture it as a picture versus typed text, which the mind processes differently than large handwritten items.

Sorry to be such a nitpicker... ;-)

itilimp's picture

As a technology fan myself, it is with some reluctance that I agree with Mark on this point.

There is jsut something more tactile about flipcharts and people having coloured pens to scribble on them that increases the sense of ownership and involvement people have. When brainstorming, I think that's one of the key things.

MikeK's picture

Ya good point, Mark A. I didn't mean that it replaces the physical act of getting everyone involved. However, that can depend on the group sometimes, if there is just one or two people, I use the SW directly. I never organize anything though, just type into it and do the rest later.

When I've used it in larger groups, we typically use stickies for everyone and as people throw them up, one person is recording the ideas so we can follow through and later organize and structure it a bit easier.

We do this for just brainstorming all the components of a large SW job and often come out of a session with several hundred items. That on sticky notes just isn't feasable for us, so Freemind helps a lot.

Anyway, glad it is of help to people... I love laking it further to the mind mapping excersize as well. Very useful.